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Apple has been Granted their third Patent for a possible future iPhone with an Expandable Display

1 Cover smartphone with expandable display

Foldable smartphones are gaining some ground in the premium space, especially in China with Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, Honor and vivo. Samsung, the leader in foldables is now on a roll with patents for yet another form factor, the rollable/scrollable expandable display device (phones and tablets). Their latest patent was published last week with one of the patent figures presented below.

2. samsung scrollable phone patent figurre

In 2022, Oppo displayed their smartphone prototype for a smartphone with a scrollable/rollable display in a promo video which provides us with an excellent view of what to expect in this form factor.

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple their third patent relating to a possible future device with an expandable display.

Electronic Devices Having Sliding Expandable Displays

Apple's granted patent covers an electronic device that may have a display mounted in a housing. The housing may have portions that slide relative to each other. When it is desired to place the device in a compact unexpanded state, the housing portions may be slid towards each other. When it is desired to expand the viewable size of the display, the housing portions may be slid away from each other.

The display in the device may be a flexible display such as an organic light-emitting diode display. The display may be doubled back on itself once or twice when it is desired to store a portion of the display. A tensioner may be used to provide the display with tension and thereby maintain the display in a desired shape such as a desired planar shape.

The housing portions that slide relative to each other may have interdigitated fingers or other slidably engaged housing structures. The display may be supported on a surface of the housing such as on a front face of the housing. The housing and display may be adjusted by a user. For example, the housing portions may slide between an unexpanded state in which the display has an unexpanded viewable area on the front face and an expanded state in which the display has an expanded viewable area on the front face that is greater than the unexpanded viewable area.

The electronic device housing may have an interior that contains electrical components. A doubled-back portion of a flexible display may be stored in an interior of the housing when the housing is in the unexpanded state.

Although the patent figures focus on being a smartphone, Apple notes that expandable displays could also apply to an iPad, iMac, a television and many other devices. When compact size is desired, device #10 of FIG. 1 below can be adjusted to be compact. The device and display #14 may, as an example, be folded inwardly or outwardly about bend axis #58. As another example, sliding or scrolling display structures can be retracted so that device size is minimized.


Display 14 of FIG. 14 above may be a flexible display that extends around internal roller #80 during storage of display #14 in housing #12 when display is in its unexpanded state. When display is in its unexpanded state, a first portion of display is visible, as shown in FIG. 15. When portion #12-2 is slid away from portion #12-1, protruding portion #12-2P slides off of the upper surface of portion #12-1 and the display is drawn out of the interior of portion #12-1 through opening #86. This places the display in its expanded state, as shown in FIG. 16.

To review the entire patent along with its 20 new patent claims, review Apple's granted patent 11889642. Always keep in mind that Apple's patent figures for utility patents, like this one, are simplistic concepts to assist the patent attorneys in understanding the basics of their invention in order to get it granted. The patent figures aren't design patent figures and don't represent the final product design from Apple.  

As prices fall for smartphones that fold and new phones with expandable displays come to market, Apple could be forced to consider an additional form factor (foldable of scrollable) in their iPhone lineup. 

Apple's many patents on new form factors make it crystal clear that they've spend millions of R&D dollars exploring possible future folding and/or scrollable device form factors. One rumor that surfaced back in December 2023 pointed to Samsung organizing a new team to develop foldable displays for Apple. 

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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